NOREEN: Losing some benefits is possible

May 8, 2013 Updated: May 8, 2013 at 11:30 am

Can a divorced senior citizen have a financial disincentive to remarry?

Reader Sharon Brown wrote in asking, 'I've heard that some senior citizens choose not to get remarried because doing so would negatively affect their financial benefits. Could you fill me in on the specifics of how this works? Do they lose some of their Social Security benefits? '

The answer is that in some circumstances it is possible. If there is a divorce and one spouse earned a Social Security benefit, the other spouse is entitled to benefits, but not if that ex-spouse remarries before reaching the age 60 (or age 50 if disabled).

That was gleaned from several websites, but we'll credit the AARP site.

Further, according to AARP:

You can receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse's work record, even if he or she remarried, if all of the following rules are met:

(1) Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security benefits. If your ex-spouse worked for 10 years or more, then he or she is eligible to receive retirement benefits as early as age 62. If your ex-spouse is receiving Social Security disability benefits, you may also qualify for benefits.

(2) Your marriage lasted at least 10 years.

(3) You are age 62 or older.

(4) You are not married. If you remarry, you generally can't collect a benefit based on the work record of a living ex-spouse unless your current marriage ends as a result of death, divorce or annulment.

(5) Your own Social Security retirement benefits are lower. The benefit you are entitled to receive based on your own work record is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse's work record.

In a related issue, HB 1058, which would establish permanent maintenance (alimony) orders in divorce cases involving couples in certain income brackets, has reached Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk. The bill is seen as a way to help women who suffer more financially in the wake of divorces than men do.

Critics of the bill say it goes too far, creating the potential of a permanent financial ball-and-chain in some cases.


Got a question? Contact Barry Noreen at 636-0363 or at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Hear him on KRDO NewsRadio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM at 6:35 a.m. Fridays.

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